HB 451 gains bipartisan support in Florida House Finance and Tax Committee

Florida small business owners yesterday gathered at the Florida House Finance and Tax Committee to make their case for saving the more than 16,000 industry companies and 100,000 professionals based in Florida. House Bill 451, sponsored by Rep. Mike Miller (R-Winter Park), passed the committee with bipartisan support. Senate Bill 1046 sponsored by Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice) also focuses on the program, and will be heard before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development on Thursday, April 2, 2015 at 9:00 a.m.

Public testimony before the House committee centered on the impacts this programs has on these businesses, Florida families, and film and digital media students.

“I own a business that sends a lot of our money outside of this state. In order to get a crew, rental equipment, many times we have to go to Georgia and Louisiana…This is something that would not only benefit myself and my company, but hundreds of students…we have a great opportunity, to be an industry leader, but it is going to take the right incentives to bring that industry back here,” said John Patrick Gines, a business owner based in Florida who moved from Southern California to attend The Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts.

“I’ve had 700 independent contractors, and I’ve lost 300 of those to other states. I’m here to tell you that we were here before the incentives started. We have been here for over 50 years with shows like Flipper and Miami Vice. These are people who have homes here, who put their kids through college here…Don’t throw us away…I hope all of you vote for this bill and keep us where we belong – in the great State of Florida,” said Kelly Paige, owner of Level Talent Group based in the Tampa area.

“There are more than 30 colleges with film and digital media programs – most of these schools are state funded so our tax dollars, yours and mine, are going to fund film and digital media programs. Those students graduate, move to Louisiana, Georgia, California, and New York where they get jobs, spend money and pay taxes, all based on education they got here in Florida…HB 451 is not about Hollywood. It is about students graduating; it’s about people like me and my family and the other 23 employees we have at IDEAS; and it’s about the 100,000 union and non-union professionals from Pensacola to Key West. They live here, they pay taxes here and they spend money here, and they want to stay here in Florida,” said John Lux, COO of IDEAS, a media and experience design company based in Orlando.

Members and supporters of the industry and program present at the meeting also included, American Advertising Federation, Associated Industries of Florida, Florida Association of Counties, Comcast, Electronic Arts, Film Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Executive Director of the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy at the University of Central Florida, Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce, Miami-Dade County, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), NBC Universal, Palm Beach County, Straz Center of the Performing Arts, Tampa Hillsborough Film and Digital Media Commission, and The Walt Disney Company.

Businesses, cities, counties, associations, and other organizations all agree this measure is good for Florida’s economy. Lawmakers should revitalize this program which would foster economic growth on a state and local level, and positively impact other economic sectors such as tourism.

The facts of the program paint a clear picture as to its value to Florida:

  • $15:$1 … Return on Investment (ROI) to the State’s Gross Domestic Project (GDP) as estimated by a 2012 Florida Economic & Demographic Research perspective analysis.
  • $4.1 Billion … Projected positive economic impact from 2010 – 2016 in Florida as estimated by a 2012 EDR perspective analysis.
  • $70,000+ … Average annual wage of film and digital media professionals, well over Florida’s annual average wage of $42,800. (Office of Film and Entertainment Annual Report, 2013-2014)
  • 170,000 … Florida jobs paying more than $900 million in wages.
  • 16,000+ … Florida-based companies supporting film and digital media, ready to begin work in the industry. (Based on NAICS codes in 2013 to include traditional content productions, post production, visual FX, game/website/mobile app development)
  • 5:1 ROI … Florida’s program produces a strong Return on Investment to the State.

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About The Whole Picture: Saving Florida Film and Digital Jobs: Members supporting the Entertainment Industry Tax Credit Program and Florida’s film and digital jobs include Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Film Florida, Motion Picture Association of America, Entertainment Software Association and many organizations, associations, businesses, economic development councils and ancillary entities.